Thursday, November 25, 2021

Thursday's Parsha Tidbits - Parshas Vayeshev

The following is a brief summary of some of thoughts said over by R' Frand on the parsha this evening. I have attempted to reproduce these vorts to the best of my ability. Any perceived inconsistency is the result of my efforts to transcribe the shiur and should not be attributed to R' Frand.

R' Frand began tonight's vort by quoting the Gemara in Sotah which discusses Aishes Potiphar's attempts to seduce Yosef. The Gemara mentions a dispute between Rav and Shmuel on the pasuk in Bereishis 39:11 in which the Torah states וַיָּבֹ֥א הַבַּ֖יְתָה לַֽעֲשׂ֣וֹת מְלַאכְתּ֑וֹ. One opinion is that Yosef arrived to do his work, while the other opinion is that he went to attend to his needs. The Gemara then continues that at this juncture, the image of Ya'akov appeared before Yosef and he said to him - all the tribes will be on the breastplate of the Kohain Gadol, but not you if you engage in relations with her.

R' Frand then asked his first question - how is it that Yosef came to the house with the intention of being with Aishes Potiphar? And if this was his intent, the Torah would have written it explicitly!

R' Frand next quoted the Maharal Bach who expanded on the question. He noted the famous concept that Hashem does not judge us for thinking about a sin if we don't come to act upon our thoughts. So why is the Gemara publicly revealing what Yosef's intention was?

R' Frand followed this up with a question which he said has been bothering him for years. Why do we call him Yosef HaTzaddik based on his refraining from being with her? He had the image of his father in front of him and he was speaking to Yosef!

R' Frand quoted the Gra who in turn cited the Gemara in Sukkah 52 which states that every day, a person Yetzer Hara rises up against him and wants to bring him down. The Gemara quotes a pasuk to support this, and the pasuk ends with the statement that if Hashem does not help us, we would not be able to beat the Yetzer Hara. This statement is echoed in the Gemara, but why is it mentioned again? The Gra explains that the assistance comes when a person tries his hardest to beat the Yezter Hara but is about to fail...at that point Hashem steps in to help him.

This is why the Gemara records that Yosef went to attend to his needs. He had fought her day after day after day and she tried to seduce him so many times. When he finally could not fight anymore, that was when the image of his father appeared, because Hashem saw that he could not fight anymore.

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Thursday, November 18, 2021

Thursday's Parsha Tidbits - Parshas Vayishlach

The following is a brief summary of some of thoughts said over by R' Frand on the parsha this evening. I have attempted to reproduce these vorts to the best of my ability. Any perceived inconsistency is the result of my efforts to transcribe the shiur and should not be attributed to R' Frand.

In Bereishis 32:11, the Torah recounts Ya'akov stating קָטֹ֜נְתִּי מִכֹּ֤ל הַֽחֲסָדִים֙ וּמִכָּל־הָ֣אֱמֶ֔ת אֲשֶׁ֥ר עָשִׂ֖יתָ אֶת־עַבְדֶּ֑ךָ.

R' Frand quoted a Sefer by R' Hadar Margolin which states that קָטֹ֜נְתִּי is found in some Chumashim with a "Revi'i'" as the note instead of the more prevalent "Azla Geresh." 

R' Frand remarked that he had looked in a number of Chumashim and could not find one with a Revi'i, so he called a friend who is an expert Ba'al Koreh. His friend (whose name I did not catch) said that the Aleppo Codex which is rumored to have been written by Ezra HaSofer and at one point was utilized by the Rambam, has a Revi'i as the note.

But what is the difference between the two notes? R' Frand quoted R' Margolin's sefer which described a fundamental difference which can be tracked through many sources.

Rashi states that Ya'akov's expression of קָטֹ֜נְתִּי meant that he at one time had many zechuyos, but they had been "spent" and now he did not feel that he enough to warrant being saved.

The Ramban takes issue with Rashi's explanation and instead explains that Ya'akov was saying that he was unworthy of all the good things which had occurred. In so doing, the Ramban quoted Bereishis Rabbah in which R' Abba said that Ya'akov had said "Eini K'Dai" - I am not worthy.

R' Frand noted that even though the Ramban quoted R' Abba, there was another opinion in the Medrash - R' Levi - who explained that Ya'akov was stating - I used to be worthy, but I have since lost my zechuyos.

R' Frand then tracked the same machlokes to a Gemara in Sotah 5b which records a dispute as to whether a Talmid Chocham should have ga'ava. One opinion states that he should have ga'ava - specifically one eighth of one eighth. R' Frand quoted the famous opinion of the Gra that this calculation comes from the קָטֹ֜נְתִּי which is the beginning of the eight pasuk of the eight parsha. 

However, there is another opinion in the Gemara that a Talmid Chocham should never display ga'ava.

R' Frand remarked that this tracks on the same overall machlokes - either a person should say Eini Kidai - I am not worthy, or he can have a small amount of ga'ava.

R' Frand said the actual notes show both schools of thought. The Azla Geresh is a note which goes upward, showing some level of ga'ava. Meanwhile the Revi'i sinks lower, as if to say Eini Kidai - I was never worthy.

R' Frand closed the vort by quoting his Rosh Yeshiva who gave a "mashal" that a person has two pockets in his suit - one is for the side of B'shvili Nivra HaOlam - the world was created for me. But the other side is for Anochi Afar V'Efer - I am nothing. A person needs to have his hands in both pockets.

R' Frand then told a story from the sefer about a grandfather who gave a speech at his grandson's Siyum HaShas. The grandfather said that he was born in Russia and that on the day of his bris, ten men got together to drink vodka and play cards. When they were sure that the KGB was not around, they stopped playing cards and had the bris. Then they went back to drinking vodka and playing cards.

The grandfather said - do you think when they said that I should grow "L'Torah U'Lchuppah U'L'Maasim Tovim" - did they really think that was possible? Back in Russia they were just hoping that I would marry a Jew. And now I have a grandson who finished Shas - Eini Kidai!

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Thursday, November 11, 2021

Thursday's Parsha Tidbits - Parshas Vayeitzei

The following is a brief summary of some of thoughts said over by R' Frand on the parsha this evening. I have attempted to reproduce these vorts to the best of my ability. Any perceived inconsistency is the result of my efforts to transcribe the shiur and should not be attributed to R' Frand.

R' Frand began the vort by quoting Rashi on the pasuk in Bereishis 29:25 - וַיְהִ֣י בַבֹּ֔קֶר וְהִנֵּה־הִ֖וא לֵאָ֑ה in which Rashi quotes the Medrash that Rochel gave the signs to Leah so that Leah would not be embarrassed when Ya'akov realized that he had married Leah instead of Rochel.

R' Frand then quoted the Gemara in Megillah 13b in which the Gemara states that as a reward for the Tznius of Rochel, she was zoche to have Shaul HaMelech as a descendant.

R' Frand said that this Gemara has bothered him for a long time. We see that what Rochel did was an act of chessed as she saved her sister from humiliation. In fact, there is a famous Medrash on Eicha which underscores the act of chessed. In this oft quoted Medrash, the patriarchs individually prayed that Hashem would end the galus. This began with Avraham praying and saying that in the z'chus of his sacrificing Yitzchak, Hashem should end the galus and Hashem said, no. Yitzchak then prayed and said that the galus should end in the z'chus that he did not challenge his father over the akeidah and Hashem said, no. Ya'akov too prayed and asked for the end of galus in the z'chus of his actions in the house of Lavan and Hashem said, no. Even Moshe prayed and asked that the galus end in the z'chus that he led the Jews in the desert for 40 years and Hashem said, no. Until Rochel prayed and said that the galus should end in the z'chus that she gave her sister the signs and helped her trick Ya'akov so that Leah would not be embarrassed, and for this Hashem agreed that there would be an end.

So while its clear that Rochel showed kindness to her sister, where is the Tzinius component?

Before answering the question, R' Frand quoted one more pasuk in the parsha. After Rochel asked Leah for the dudaim that Reuven found, Leah says to Rochel in 30:15 - וַתֹּ֣אמֶר לָ֗הּ הַֽמְעַט֙ קַחְתֵּ֣ךְ אֶת־אִישִׁ֔י וְלָקַ֕חַת גַּ֥ם אֶת־דּֽוּדָאֵ֖י בְּנִ֑י. R' Frand was bothered by this pasuk as how can Leah have the temerity to say to Rochel that she had taken Leah's husband. Didn't Leah know that Ya'akov was originally supposed to marry Rochel?

R' Frand quoted the sefer Ohr Reuven which offers an incredible insight into what happened before the first wedding night. It is a well known Medrash that the signs were actually halachos - Ya'akov taught Rochel the halachos of Niddah, Challah and Hadlakas HaNer. The Ohr Reuven writes that when Ya'akov taught these halachos to Rochel it was not meant to be a sign to avoid Lavan's trickery. Rather, Yaa'kov said to Rochel - these are important halachos that a Jewish woman must know. On the night we are to marry, I will test you on these halachos. If you pass, we will go forward with the wedding.

Following this event, Rochel taught the halachos to Leah and told her - one day you will get married and it is important that you know these halachos. She did not tell Leah that Ya'akov had said that he would test her on them. All that Leah knew was that these were important halachos to learn. And on the wedding night, she aced the test, albeit without knowing that these halachos were meant to be Rochel's quiz. This was the tznius of Rochel, she passed the information on to Leah without Leah even knowing that this was meant for Rochel.

This is also why Leah was able to say with a straight face that Rochel had taken her husband. Leah never knew that Rochel was to be the first wife. All she knew was that her father told her that she was marrying Ya'akov and that she passed the quiz.

R' Frand closed the vort by reiterating a thought from Kelem that he had said in his Teshuva Derasha - there is no comparison between a mitzva done in public and the same mitzva done privately that no one knows about.

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Thursday, November 4, 2021

Thursday's Parsha Tidbits - Parshas Toldos

The following is a brief summary of some of thoughts said over by R' Frand on the parsha this evening. I have attempted to reproduce these vorts to the best of my ability. Any perceived inconsistency is the result of my efforts to transcribe the shiur and should not be attributed to R' Frand.

Within the dialogue between Yitzchak and Ya'akov prior to the giving of the beracha, there is an interesting pasuk (Bereishis 27:20) וַיֹּ֤אמֶר יִצְחָק֙ אֶל־בְּנ֔וֹ מַה־זֶּ֛ה מִהַ֥רְתָּ לִמְצֹ֖א בְּנִ֑י וַיֹּ֕אמֶר כִּ֥י הִקְרָ֛ה יְהֹוָ֥ה אֱלֹהֶ֖יךָ לְפָנָֽי. In this pasuk, Yitzchak asks Ya'akov, "how is it that you brought me food so quickly " and Ya'akov responds "because Hashem your G-d has made it ready for me." 

R' Frand quoted the Zera Shimshon which asked - why did Ya'akov say to Yitzchak and say that Hashem was responsible for him finding food so quickly?  He did not find the food, he got it from his mother's kitchen!

The Zera Shimshon answered that Ya'akov was accurate in his response - the finding of the food was with the help of Hashem, as it was Yad Hashem that he was able to obtain the food from Rivka's kitchen while Esav was out hunting in the fields.

R' Frand said that this is a lesson to us about how we approach things. A person can be running late for a meeting and then get all the green lights and show up early. He can say "I made all the lights" ... or he can say "B'Ezras Hashem, all the lights turned green for me." 

R' Frand quoted a story from R' Meilech Biederman about a man who made a speech at the Sheva Berachos after the marriage of his fifth and final son. The man said "I have married off five sons and Hashem has not helped me one iota." 

The man's children were aghast...surely their father was drunk, or otherwise confused.

The man responded to their quizzical looks - "I meant what I said. Hashem did not help me, He did it all himself!" Its not Siyata D'Shmaya if it is all from him.

R' Frand closed the vort by telling a story from the Chofetz Chaim. A wagon driver once came to him and cried about how his horse had died and now he had no way to make a living. The Chofetz Chaim said to him - you should cry if you think that the horse gave you a way to make a living! Your parnasah comes from Hashem, not from the horse. And Hashem can give you another horse or another way to make a parnasah.

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Sunday, October 31, 2021

Sunday Night Suds - Jailbreak Brewing SLF Hazy IPA

 

This week's Sunday Night Suds looks at Jailbreak Brewing's Special Lady Friend Hazy IPA.

On a recent trip to Maryland I stopped off at a Total Wine & Liquor to pick up some brews from the good folks at Jailbreak Brewing in Laurel, Maryland. I had a chance to visit the brewery and its tap room and came away very impressed (see post here for my thoughts on my visit back in 2015 - https://kosherbeers.blogspot.com/2015/01/sunday-night-suds-jailbreak-brewing-big.html).

If you read the LOC on the Star-K website you will see that there are many interesting varieties of Jailbreak beers, including some that are Star-D such as the Carrot Cake Conspiracy and Chocolate Coconut Porter. Unfortunately, most of the interesting brews are only available on site or by specialty keg order and even their mainstream canned brews cannot be found outside of the Beltway area.

The Special Lady Friend is bursting with juice and is reminiscent of pomelo. The beer gets its flavor from the Mosaic hops, but also has interesting spice notes which come from the "experimentation with various yeasts." (I don't get to see much of the Jailbreak in NY, so I don't know much about the experimental beers that the Jailbreak website is referring to). Still the 7% abv is not very present and there is not an overwhelming alcohol flavor. Although I had this beer after dinner tonight, I suspect that it would go well with spicy meat and poultry dishes.

Jailbreak Brewing Special Lady Friend IPA is certified kosher by the Star-K. To see the LOC for Jailbreak - click here https://api.star-k.org/api/Loc/LoadLoc/SEEDVZ8M (this will open in a new tab). For the experts take on this beer, please click here beeradvocate.com/beer/profile/34426/383975/.

As always, please remember to drink responsibly and to never waste good beer unless there is no designated driver.

If you've tried this beer or any others which have been reviewed on the kosher beers site, please feel free to post your comments (anonymous comments are acceptable).

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Thursday, October 28, 2021

Thursday's Parsha Tidbits - Parshas Chaye Sarah

The following is a brief summary of some of thoughts said over by R' Frand on the parsha this evening. I have attempted to reproduce these vorts to the best of my ability. Any perceived inconsistency is the result of my efforts to transcribe the shiur and should not be attributed to R' Frand.

Rabbi Frand began the vort by quoting Bereishis 24:5 wherein the Torah states that Eliezer asked Avraham -  אוּלַי֙ לֹֽא־תֹאבֶ֣ה הָֽאִשָּׁ֔ה לָלֶ֥כֶת אַֽחֲרַ֖י אֶל־הָאָ֣רֶץ הַזֹּ֑את - maybe she won't go with me? However the Torah spells the word אוּלַי֙ without the Vuv. Rashi comments that it is spelled that way because Eliezer had a daughter and he had hoped that Yitzchak would marry her. Avraham put those dreams to rest, telling Eliezer in no uncertain terms that since Eliezer came from Canaan he was cursed and his daughter could not wed Yitzchak who was blessed.

However, despite this gut punch, Eliezer quickly went about his way to find a bride for Yitzchak. 

R' Frand quoted the sefer Arugas HaBosem which ties this story into a Gemara in Chullin which states that each creature was asked whether it accepted its form before it was created. The elephant was asked - would you like to be an elephant and he accepted it. So did the cockroach (for reasons I can't fathom).

Much in the same way, the earth and the heavens accepted their roles when Hashem created them. This can be seen in the word for earth being Eretz - it has the word Ratz (run) as the earth ran to do what Hashem asked it to do.

The Arugas HaBosem writes that Eliezer learned from the earth and quickly ran to perform his assigned task. This tie in can be seen numerous times in the parsha. By example when Eliezer is sworn by Avraham in Bereishis 24:3, wherein it states וְאַשְׁבִּ֣יעֲךָ֔ בַּֽיהֹוָה֙ אֱלֹהֵ֣י הַשָּׁמַ֔יִם וֵֽאלֹהֵ֖י הָאָ֑רֶץ. Later in the parsha where it states that Eliezer came to the well, Rashi teaches that the Eretz jumped for him.

R' Frand also quoted a pasuk from Tehillim which states that Hashem's eyes are on the Ne'emanei HaAretz. It does not call them the Tzadikim, but those of the land who will honestly do Hashem's work. 

R' Frand remarked that many times a person has a belief of what their tafkid should be - a law student may want to be a Supreme Court Judge, but winds up hearing disability appeals. A student in Beis Medrash may want to be a Rosh Yeshiva, but instead is a 6th grade Rebbi. The message is that Hashem places us where we belong and we need to run to do our mission, even if it is not glamorous, or what we dreamed our job would be.

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